Many artists, writers, poets and musicians have said that their creative work has been inspired by an individual whom they refer to as their muse. A muse is someone who has such an influence on another that he or she becomes the focus and inspiration for that person's creative work. The term has historically been used by men to describe the women that they have been in love with and made the subject of their work.
The word muse originates from Greek mythology. The Greek gods Zeus and Mnemosyne had nine daughters called the Muses. The nine daughters were of one being in heart, spirit and thought. If the muses loved a man, then the man's worries instantly disappeared. The man who was loved by the muses was considered to be more sacred than a holy man.
Throughout the history of the arts, men and women have been inspired by their own muses. Think of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, two people who were inspired by each other and became the subject of much of the other's work. One world famous artist who incorporated his muses into his work was the painter Pablo Picasso. Throughout his life, each of the women he met and loved became his subject.
Picasso had relationships with many women, many of which ended in heart-breaking circumstances for the women. Picasso's work can be seen progressing with each woman he had a relationship with. From the first flush of romance to the deterioration of the relationship, all of the stages can be seen in his art. Picasso's women were his inspiration, and he is sometimes judged harshly for discarding the women in his life when the inspiration dissipated and his work began to suffer. Picasso would move onto a new woman, and his inspiration and art would be invigorated.
The muse is not always a human being. As the idea of the muse originated in a spiritual world, so too do many musicians see their muse as coming from a different dimension. Musician Jim Morrison of the rock band The Doors claimed to call on the spirit world to inspire his music. Many people see the muse as a dark supernatural force that possesses the artist and helps create his or her work. This is why some people call some forms of music, mistakenly, the devil's work.
Whether the muse is spiritual or a person of flesh and blood, it is true that the world of the arts is indebted to its muses. Without these inspirational people who have loved and encouraged the artist, a wealth of paintings and music would be missing from the world.